Monday, March 9, 2015


Chug Chug Chugging along on my currant cardigan project.  I knit a proper gauge swatch and everything. Swatch said it would get a wee bit wider, but grow quite a bit in length. I can say from experience this is true, since I used the same yarn for my Rocky Coast cardigan and it grew like 5 inches in length when I blocked it. Oops. Didn't wash that swatch.

So far I've really enjoyed the knit. Increasing for the raglan sleeves while still following the charted pattern was difficult, but I eventually got it figured out.

Smooth sailing from here. I just need to add about 12 inches in length, while decreasing for waist shaping, then increase for hips, knit the bottom rib, pump out two stockinette sleeves, then knit the two button bands and attach them, block and find buttons.

Easy, right? 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Attack on the Orange

The weekend was too beautiful to stay inside, so on Sunday I got out the pruners and visciously attacked my mexican mock orange.

I thought about waiting until after it bloomed, but I started to shear the fern hiding under it and couldn't help myself.

Could barely tell there was a fern there.

I started to just prune off a few of the lower branches near the fern, but realized that when the stalks of the plant touch the ground they start growing roots. And trust me, this guy didn't need any more roots.

Here's the before picture.

It's not just a trick of the light, you really can't tell where the orange stops and the rhodie to the left of it starts. (YES, there IS a rhodie there!)

This guy was a monster. No regular maintenance had been done and the branches were weaving in and out of each other. I've had a bit of a hard time finding care on "Mexican mock orange" as opposed to just "mock orange", but I have come to the conclusion that you need to hack away at branches a the base, like a forsythia. The basis for that? Lots of spots where it looked like someone had cut the end off and it had grown eight more branches. Kind of like a hydra, only times eight.

Between two ferns, the orange, and a wee bit of pruning on the low branches on the rhodie, we managed to fill both yard waste bins in about two hours. Sigh. So much waste.

It may not be pretty this year, but I think the plant really needed the hair cut and will be happier in the long run. Well, maybe it won't be happier, since it was freaking covered in flower buds, but I will be.

My hydrangea is looking better than last year. I don't think I quite gave it the 1/3 cutting I should have. May have to work on it again this weekend.

And you see that green shrub behind it? IT'S ANOTHER MEXICAN ORANGE. Seriously? Were they free or something? No way there is enough space for that back in the corner. It will definitely be getting a transplant at some point.

I was examining the rhubarb patch after the perennial edibles class last week and couldn't find any sprouts. I wasn't sure if they were supposed to die all the way back to the ground in the winter, but the class assured me they were. But they said I should have little pink heads sticking out of the ground... And I didn't. But that was last week.

There are TWO tiny stalks coming out of this rhubarb. And this is the one that DIED last year! I planted the stalks and this group wilted away to nothing and didn't produce any more leaves. Look at it now!

This one produced only a few small leaves last year, but I have faith that this year it will return with vigor! Rhubarb for everyone!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ferns = Pruned

Well, most of them. I still have three in the back that need some selective thinning/total chop. Turns out I have a LOT of ferns. And cutting them back to the ground produces a ton of yard waste.

By the front steps, cut down to nothing.

But I cut up the fronts to act as mulch, as per Ciscoe's advice.

The side yard before pruning.

After selective pruning of one.

Total deheading of another.

Back yard from the side yard.

Hoyt, ready to help move the fronds around the yard.

Back yard, post pruning of the ferns in front of the trees.

These ones were huge. I didn't get around to the ones behind the tree yet. That will be Monday's project. I was hoping to prune my mexican mock orange, but it's got crazy buds on it, so I think I'll let it bloom first.

But everyone I have talked to said they grow like crazy here and I can hack away at it at any time and it will be just fine. But... But... flowers! I'll wait. Maybe do just a little clean up underneath if there is space in the yard waste bin.

And next weekend? I tackle this!

Mostly weeding, but I want to stake out where I have last years plants that are cut to the ground so I don't step on them when planting my natives. I also want to start a plan for a path and some steps down to the fence. I feel like every time I walk down the slope it slips just a little bit more.

And the moss patch? Maybe I'll start on that, too....

Then again, that's a big project, so maybe not...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Native Plants

I have two upcoming yard projects to work on. Well, three really, but one is the deck and therefore an "outside" project, not garden related. But more on that later.

The first project is pretty simple.  Pruning the sword ferns. I've read several articles about it and asked around to see if people actually do this. Some people say it's stupid because sword ferns are native and don't get pruned in the wild, so they forgo the snippers. Others say that they selectively prune out the brown stalks, but don't do more than that. However, I've found a few places online that suggest cutting off the whole dang plant just above ground level. Ciscoe Morris says to do it so you can watch the new fiddleheads unfurl. Other experts say to do it to keep the size of the fern in control. The Washington Native Plant Society says to each his own. I plan on hacking away at a couple of mine since I have maybe 10+ ferns throughout the yard. I'll chop off a couple of the big ones and selectively prune one or two. I have at least one fern I can think of that is on the petite side, so I will probably leave that one alone this year. I just missed the 60 degree weather to do this in, so I get to look forward to 50 and rainy this weekend. Yay.

The second project is WAY more exciting. We have been talking about how stupid is is to mow our front "lawn". It slopes towards the street so it's not that easy to mow, plus it's mostly moss and there isn't really any satisfaction when you finish because you can't really see a mowed swath. The few sparse blades of grass are shorter, but it's such a let down. Almost the entire grassy area is inside the drip line for the doug firs, so it's super shady and relatively dry in the summertime. Hence the moss.

We've been talking about pulling up the grass and moss and planting the area with native plants, but I haven't been inspired to act on it. Mostly due to other projects being more important. But now. Oh, but now.

I was dreaming of spring last week and researching my veggie seeds when I got distracted by flower seeds. Then to perennial flower seeds. Then to native perennials flowers. Somehow through all that I ended up at the King County Conservation District native plant sale. It blew my socks off. SO CHEAP. MUCH PLANTS. WOW.

Then I found the Snohomish County sale. I basically just opened my wallet and let them clean me out. Except they didn't need to clean me out. I can plant the ivy patch, the moss patch, and have some left over for $100. And that's INCLUDING purchasing a rain barrel! Mind blown.

5 Western Columbine

5 Purple Coneflower

3 Sword Fern

2 Stonecrop

4 Evergreen Huckleberry

2 Pacific Rhodedendrons

5 Red Flowering Currant

And 1 rain barrel.

I have a feeling that if they are selling stuff day of, I may end up buying some kinnikinnik as a ground cover between plants, but that depends on how full my car is. Just the plants, no problem, but including the barrel, too.... Yeah, they are getting a lot of my money this year.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stitch Fix #5


This fix I got one cardigan, two shirts, a scarf, and a dress. And, surprisingly, I liked most of them. Doesn't mean I kept them all, but I liked the style. GASP. Stitchfix, are you learning, or did you just get lucky?

Concord Draped Striped Pocket Cardigan - $58
41 Hawthorn

This cardigan is kind of like the pink one I got in my first Fix that is super soft and comfy. Apparently I love jersey material. It's dark purple, almost blue, with gray stripes. And pockets! Yup, keeping it. Done.

Chantal Cowl Neck Knit Top - $38
Le Lis

Again with the soft jersey. And gray. So cozy. However, it was so freaking baggy!

Yeah, not pregnant. Don't need that much extra space. I believe Alan said something along the lines of "it doesn't do anything for you." So while I really wanted to like it, it just wasn't that special. Sorry. Returned.

Tina Checkered Infinity Scarf - $34 

Holy soft infinity scarf batman! Black and white checkered, and super soft. Hmm, yes, they might have me figured. "Oh, she's a tactile inspired knitter? Let's just send her soft stuff and she'll cave." Yeah, I caved. Mine. Wore it to work today.

Dash Button-Front Chambray Shirt - $78
Market & Spruce

They sent me this because on my Pinterest I said I needed some button-downs to wear under sweaters. The only problem here is that pretty much live in jeans. I think I have one pair of khakis and one pair of green pants and the rest are all jeans. The fit was fine, and I think it went pretty well with the scarf in the above picture, but I just can't get past the Canadian tuxedo look. And it was $78 for a chambray shirt. For reals? If it was $20 cheaper and a different shade, I'd probably keep it. But that's like J.Crew pricing for a Gap quality shirt. Nope.

Petrova Textured Pleat Skirt Dress - $88
Market & Spruce

Does this dress seem familiar to anyone else?

Oh yeah...

I have it in red. And it was $20 from the Rack and is better quality. The zipper on the Market & Spruce dress kept getting hung up on the elastic at the waist and I couldn't do it by myself. Definitely don't need two of the same dress, so this one went back, too.

I'd say this Fix overall was decent. I could have liked everything.... but I didn't. Close, but no cigar. Definitely better than the last one. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Layered Pea Salad

I always seem to misplace this recipe right when I need it, which is for Thanksgiving. Or really any potluck, but always Thanksgiving. The traditional salad didn't get served with lunch, but with turkey and rolls for dinner after the meal was over. Love this salad, as basic as it is. Posted for easy access later.

Layered pea salad

Layer the following in a 13x9 inch pan:
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 cut diced green pepper
1/2 cut diced celery
1 scant cup diced onion
2 cups mayo mixed with 2 Tbsp sugar for dressing
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
8-12 pieces of bacon, fried to crispy and crumbled

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Next Stitchfix

This was an interesting StitchFix. I had a similar shipping issue as last time - I knew I was going to be out of town over the weekend, so I requested it be delivered on Tuesday. Well, they shipped it early, probably in an attempt to make sure it got here, but it arrived on Friday. Then sat on my front step until I got home late Sunday. It was still there, obviously, but why do you mail your boxes so dang early? You ask your clients when they want it, so deliver it when you say you will!

With that, on to the "interesting" pieces. I asked for a vest so I could layer up in my frigid office, and had a bunch on my pinterest board.  At the last minute, I decided to add a request for jeans since Hoyt's tiny little puppy nails have snagged on two of the pairs I wear all the time.  Here's what I got:

41 Hawthorn Moni Stud Detailed 3/4 Sleeve Blouse - $58

This is so similar to the blue and white patterned blouse I kept from my last fix. It has the same detailing on the sleeve cuffs (they're rounded and folded). I actually pinned this shirt in coral way back when I started my StitchFix style board.  Fits, flatters, like it, keep it. Status: Keep.

Gentle Fawn Hansel Woven Vest - $88

When I requested a vest, I really meant something puffy, quilted, or knit, that would keep me warm. StitchFix just blogged about how to wear vests, and has been pinning a bunch of them, and while I forgot to pin those, that's definitely more what I was thinking.  Maybe they were thrown off when I said it was for work? Maybe I haven't made it clear that I'm a fish bio in an office where everyone is more likely to wear socks under their Birkenstocks/Chacos than heels.

This is a crappy picture. You can't see any of the detailing. Detailing that, when Alan saw it, made him say "NOOOO. Hard pass. Hard pass." He later said it made me look like an really old elementary school teacher. It's just.... boring. I could style this exactly how they suggested and it simply wouldn't look good on me. Status: Return.

Pixley Carly Multi-Sone Layering Necklace - $36

I'm wearing this necklace in the above picture. It's gold, long, and has stones about the same color as the shirt I was wearing. It's fine. I like it, but meh. I have several long necklaces that are pretty similar. I didn't even take a picture of it by itself, that's how blah I was about it. Status: Return.

Moon Collection Alexander Graphic Knit Drape Front Cardigan - $68

So soft. So cozy. I normally shy away from cardigans with all the extra material in front, whether it's up top or hanging down, whatever. I feel like I would always play with it and drive myself nuts. However. I thought this was really fun. I had pinned a chunky cardigan with a big print on it, so this one was pretty on par with what I wanted in a Fix. It will definitely keep me warm in the office, even if that vest won't. Status: Keep.

Henry & Belle Janet Wide Leg Jean - $148
(The tag said Mini Micro Flare, not Janet Wide Leg) 

This was my first try for pants from StitchFix. They actually did a great job. They totally fit. They're snug across my butt, with no material bunching under the cheeks (this happens a lot to me if jeans fit my legs). There was no extra material in the crotch. 

They're even the right length.  They may be the stretchiest jeans I've ever tried on, which sometimes I associate with cheap. Also the fact that most of the stretchy jeans I've owned have fit for the first, maybe second wear after washing, then they were so loose I had to wash them again.

The problem, you ask? They're $150. That's crazy town. I live in jeans, but I tend to buy my Lucky's for $30-50 at the Rack or Ross or some other discount store. I would pay more for pants from StitchFix that were perfect. However, I put my range at $50-100 for pants. $150? Let me check my math.... Yep, definitely not in that price range. Status: Return.

So the two things I asked for I'm returning, and the two things inspired by my Pinterest board I'm keeping. I actually think that's kind of a bummer. It's great that they found things I really like when I shared my style, but I wish that when I put things on my list they were able to successfully fulfill them. Now it's happened three times - the vest, the pants, and the really really awful potato sack dress they sent me last time when I asked for a rehearsal dinner dress.  And I have yet to keep a piece of jewelry. That's probably just me being frugal, though.